How To Follow Up People For Networking

Why many networkers fail to follow up (and how to reverse this trend)

This guest blog is from Shelly Lefkoe, my long-time friend and fellow member of TLC (Transformational Leadership Council). I recommend her book to all my readers.

Imagine running a marathon. You run past mile marker 25. Then mile marker 26. Just 1/10th of a mile left to go. You still have gas in the tank. The finish line is in sight. But instead of running any further, you walk off the path and go home.  Sounds silly, right?

But many otherwise smart people do something similar when it comes to networking.

They make connections. They have great conversations. They get contact information. Then they are never heard from again.  From the outside, we can’t understand why this happens.

We know the value of following up with new contacts. We get remembered. We build relationships that are crucial to furthering our businesses and careers.

And if we don’t follow up, we miss all that.

So what stops smart people from following up?

To answer that question, let’s examine a networking situation.

You have a great conversation with someone at a networking event. Maybe they can refer people to you. Maybe they could even be a client in the future.  The next day, you look at the business card, thinking you’ll send a follow-up email.  You feel uncomfortable and think, “I’ll do this tomorrow.”  This process may repeat for a few days before you forget about following up altogether.

Sound familiar?

The uncomfortable feeling was, in most cases, accompanied by uncomfortable thoughts such as:

  • “I can’t figure out what to say.”
  • “They don’t really want to hear from me.”
  • “I’ll sound stupid.”

These thoughts are almost like stop signs. We see, and we obey.

Most typical advice tells you to argue with interfering thoughts such as these. But in my 30 years of helping people make long-lasting changes to their lives, I’ve found a better way.

We find the beliefs that lead to the thoughts, and then we change them.

Here’s how this works.

Each of these thoughts points to a limiting belief.

  • If you keep thinking, “I can’t figure out what to say,” you may have beliefs such as “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not capable,” or even “I’m not a good writer/communicator.”
  • If you have thoughts like “They don’t really want to hear from me,” you may have beliefs like “I’m not important” or “People aren’t interested in what I have to say.”
  • If the painful thought “I’ll sound stupid” shows up, then you could believe “I’m not smart enough,” or even “I’m stupid.”

(By the way, over the decades, I’ve worked with five Harvard PhDs who believed “I’m stupid” despite the obvious evidence to the contrary. This shows you can have a belief even if it makes no sense to the outside world.)

When I first met my client, Ted, he decided he needed to network to grow his plumbing business.  He joined BNI but, at first, would avoid the meetings.  He kept feeling like he was less than the other professionals who he felt were “smarter” and more successful than he was. I helped him discover that he believed “Others are smarter than me,” “I’m not good enough,” and “No one wants to hear what I have to say.”

The next time I spoke to Ted, he had attended a meeting and didn’t have all those old feelings anymore. He kept going.  Eventually, he did gain referrals through BNI and now has a successful plumbing business.

Most of us have a little Ted in us. We have doubts and concerns that keep us from taking important steps to grow our businesses, like following up with potential referral partners. When we get past them, we can act swiftly to reach our goals.  However, you may not be convinced yet.  You might think …

“My beliefs are not why I don’t follow up, I just don’t have the time.” 

Ivan Misner has provided fantastic templates for writing a follow-up email. These take seconds to use.

“I don’t have time” is a reason we give when we’re uncomfortable about a task. Look inside. Imagine you were given a day off from work and all responsibilities. You are about to write a follow-up email.  How does that feel?

If you feel fine about it, why not do it now? But if you feel uncomfortable, you’ve just learned something useful.  You can find the belief causing your discomfort and do something about it.

Next step

In my book, co-written with Vahan Yepremyan, titled “Hitting the Wall: Eliminate the Beliefs That Sabotage Your Business and Your Life,” I detail the specific process for finding and changing your limiting beliefs. When people use this process, they report that their attitudes, feelings, and behaviors improve with great ease.

Often we unconsciously avoid things that are uncomfortable, but when the discomfort goes away, we can charge ahead with full force.  If you’ve ever felt you were driving with the brakes on, get my book, but more importantly, read it. It will make a massive difference in your life.

Hitting the Wall: Eliminate the Beliefs That Sabotage Your Business and Your Life is available on and anywhere books are sold.

Click here to get the book on Amazon.

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